Reg was the youngest of the three Whitcombe brothers from Burnham in Somerset. At the time most people considered the middle brother, Charles, as the best of the lot, with Reginald Arthur next in line. Yet he was the only one of the three to win The Open.
Eldest brother Ernest was second to Walter Hagen at Hoylake in 1924 and Charles finished third behind Alf Perry in 1935 at Muirfield. But after finishing runner-up to Henry Cotton at the rain-soaked Carnoustie in 1937, it was at Royal St George’s the following year that Reg withstood the worst of the gale force winds that blighted the final day’s play.
The Exhibition Tent was completely destroyed by the strong winds and within minutes the contents were scattered around the course and even as far as the clubhouse at Prince’s, almost a mile away. Whitcombe’s rounds of 75-78 earned him a two-shot victory over Jimmy Adams. Only Cotton outscored him over the last 36 holes, but he was too far adrift to do more than leapfrog into third place.
Among the leading 36 players to finish, there were more than 50 scores in the 80s and three in the 90s over the two final rounds on that savage day. In 1935 all three Whitcombe brothers were included in the ten-man Ryder Cup team to play at Ridgewood Country Club in New Jersey.
Reg was not picked to play the foursomes, where the pairing of Charles, the captain, and Ernest gained the visitors their only win of the session. In the singles, Reg was five up after 24 holes against Johnny Revolta but five bogeys in a row towards the end handed the American a 2 and 1 victory. Reg was again selected in 1939 but the match was cancelled after the outbreak of WWII.